Despite Our Shadows, my sexy noir non-SF story, is the next novel to be upgraded. I’m on it right now, giving it the mandatory editing pass… and as I work, I’m discovering that I’m considering again the elements that constituted the major change in the first revision.
Originally titled Lambs Hide, Tigers Seek, this novel is about an investigator with women issues, being thrown into the goth and bondage scene in Nashville as he tracks a missing heiress.
When I first wrote the story, I was concerned about the sexual aspects of the book, and about pushing it too far into what would be considered “porn” territory. I didn’t want the book to be shut out of certain markets because of its content. A number of my other books similarly got the “kiss-kiss-cut-to-morning” treatment that I felt was appropriate for their content.
Years later, I reconsidered my decision. It occurred to me that I’d read many a novel over the years that had scenes with graphic, explicit and even X-rated content. The content of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series comes immediately to mind: Not only were many of characters depicted “doing the nasty,” but in some cases, their powers directly depended on sex.
So, when I did revision 1 of the novel (and most of my others), I went back through the neutered sex scenes, and went ahead and put in more sexual detail. Not all books got a lot of extra material (if the book didn’t really call for it), but in the case of Lambs/Tigers, I felt the story needed the sex scenes to really emphasize what was going on with the main characters; the explicit content was vital to the story.
The content went in. To help mark the major alteration to the novel, I changed its title to Despite Our Shadows, gave it a new cover, and re-released it. I wish I could say customer feedback provided me with either confirmation or condemnation of my efforts… but in fact, the book hasn’t sold more than a few copies since its original release. So I got crickets.
And so here I am, revising the content again, and thanks to the underwhelming response from the first revision, I find myself wondering if I went too far… or if there was simply some other reason (like my pathetic marketing savvy—or the story itself, sex or no sex) for the book’s bombing.
My present state of mind is that the content stands as-is; and that I need better marketing to push this book. I’m altering the cover as well, and that will get a more striking treatment too.
But I’m not through with it yet. And before I finish, who knows? Maybe I’ll change it again. Maybe I’ll put tits on the cover. Maybe I’ll satirize 50 Shades of Grey. Maybe I’ll remove all the naughty bits and make it clean enough for Grandma to read.
Or maybe I’ll just update the contact information.